|Fans celebrate in the Qatari capital of Doha after being announced as World Cup 2022 hosts [EPA]
The morning after Russia and Qatar were awarded the greatest prize in sport, life has gone on quietly in what will be the World Cup host nations in 2018 and 2022 – while countries unsuccessful in their bids try to work out what went wrong.
For world governing body Fifa, Friday comes with a large dose of relief as the controversial bidding process is put to bed for 10 years, until the struggle begins to host World Cup 2026.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has vowed to ensure mistakes are not repeated in future.
And his efforts to review the voting system will come under scrutiny from China, who are early candidates for 2026 – much to the dismay of rivals like Japan, who missed out on the 2022 tournament on Thursday night.
Australian fans were the most vocal in their disappointment at missing out on the World Cup in 2022, but their football chiefs were more restrained.
"Soccer is dead to me," Jeremy Tom, 26, told the AFP news agency at a gathering of about 100 Australian fans watching the vote on a big screen on the shores of Sydney Harbour in the middle of the night.
"What a rort (scam). Who goes to Qatar to watch the world game? It's a joke."
Australia's sports minister said Qatar's plan to ship surplus stadiums to developing nations and its contribution to Middle East unity appeared to have clinched the vote.
Despite a high-profile $45 million campaign backed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australia was knocked out in the first round with just one vote.
"Clearly the legacy that Qatar was going to provide in infrastructure played heavily," Arbib said.
"There are far too many permutations, especially with two World Cups being decided on the same day, and I am not smart enough to figure out how all those played out"
United States football chief Sunil Gulati
Team leaders from Japan and South Korea also vented frustration at the event being handed to the Gulf state, which has never played in the World Cup.
"I don't quite understand what factor is favourable," Japan's Football Association vice chairman Kuniya Daini said.
"Maybe, it is meaningful to host it in the Middle East for the first time."
In their final presentation to Fifa delegates on Wednesday, South Korea's bid team said hosting the World Cup would act as a gateway to reunification of the divided Korean peninsula.
The region is enduring the worst tensions in years after North Korea hurled a deadly artillery barrage onto a South Korean border island last week.
"We'd expected to meet either the US or Australia in the final round," the head of Seoul's bid Han Sung-Joo was quoted by South Korea's Yonhap news agency as saying.
The United States reached the final round for 2022 but lost 14-8 in the voting.
US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said it was obvious there had been many political moves among delegates.
'Too many permutations'
"It's politics, it's friendships and relationships, it's alliances, it's tactics," he told a teleconference with US-based reporters.
"There are far too many permutations, especially with two World Cups being decided on the same day, and I am not smart enough to figure out how all those played out in these two elections."
The 2018 bid award was less controversial, but Spain-Portugal and England were confident that their bids would have been successful.
"It's hard to see what more you can do, but in the end it turns out having the best technical bid, the best commercial bid, a passion for football, that's not enough," said British prime minister David Cameron.
"It's desperately sad. There hasn't been a World Cup in England in my lifetime, I was hoping we could change that but not this time."
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said of the Spain-Portugal joint bid: "Perhaps the members of the executive committee wanted to expand football to new lands, to countries that are powerful economically, to those with money."
Former Belgian footballer Marc Wilmots, commenting on the failed bid by Netherlands-Belgium, perhaps best summed up the air of bitterness when he said the two decisions had not been based on sporting reasons.
"Russia is a political choice and Qatar is an economic choice. You can say that to some extent the sport has been the loser with the decision for these two World Cups."
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies